Intermodal flatbed launched

Boyd Intermodal, along with partner Raildecks Intermodal, on Feb. 28 announced the launch of its Boyd/Raildecks flatbed intermodal product designed to allow industrial freight such as steel and aluminum coils to be transported by railroad.

Class 1 railroads can enable the flatbed industry to create capacity “when the only way previously was to add a trailer and a driver,” said Chris Cooper, chief operating officer of Boyd Bros. Transportation, at a press event. “This has never been done before now.”

Because railroads traditionally have not accepted flatbed trailer loads on the rail system, some of the heaviest bulk loads of steel and other metals have been required to travel over the highways. Clayton, Ala.-based Boyd Bros. and Raildecks of Canada sought to develop a system that flatbed shippers could use on rails for long-distance shipments.

The companies worked with BNSF and Fontaine Trailer to develop the intermodal flatbed. Raildecks was looking for a customer for its product at about the same time that Boyd Bros. was seeking an intermodal solution, and BNSF put the two companies together, said Rick Jocson, Raildecks chief executive officer.

After many prototypes were tested and 240 loads were shipped successfully, the new product is ready for wider use, the companies say. Jocson said that while some European companies already are using a similar system, this is the first time a U.S. company has offered the product.

Raildecks’ intermodal flat trailer can be transported over short distances via highway on a chassis. Once inside an intermodal yard, it can be lifted onto intermodal trains for longhaul transport to its destination, where it is drayed to its final consignee.

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